ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish resident, also a Peshmerga fighter, was found dead after stepping on a mine on Erbil’s Mount Qalandar, security said on Tuesday.
Kaihan Sleman Dolamari’s body was found at approximately 10:00 pm on Monday evening after Soran police, a civil defense team, and members of the victim's family went to the mountainous area to search for him after he dropped out of contact for some hours, Director of Soran Civil Defense Imad Rekani announced in a statement.
Many residents keep small farms or beehives in the mountainous, rural areas of the Kurdistan Region and make periodic trips to harvest plants, produce, or honey. According to Dolamari's family, he was on the mountain for this reason.
Dolamari, aged 30 and married with children, is from Mazne district, near the city of Soran. He traveled to Mount Qalandar alone on Monday at 2:00 pm local time, Soran Police Spokesperson Hawar Argoshi told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday.
After leaving his vehicle on a peak of the mountain, he walked for what is thought to be a few hours before receiving fatal injuries as a result of stepping on a decades-old mine.
Police say they have started an investigation into the case.
Argoshi mentioned that, on Monday, villagers in the area heard a loud explosion on Mount Qalandar, believed to be the time when the mine detonated beneath Dolamari.
Mount Qalandar is located on the triangle border of the Kurdistan Region, Turkey, and Iran. It is one of the mountains that has yet to be cleared from mines. Despite some signs of indicating mines in the area such as specially-placed signs, flags, sticks, or rocks, many people have been wounded or killed by mines that lay dormant for years until disturbed.
In 2016, six people were killed and eight more disabled due to mine explosions, according to the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA). The organization also mentioned previously that in 2017, four people were killed and four more wounded due to mine explosions in areas near the border of Iran.
Most mines date back to the 1980s during the war with Iran when the Iraqi regime planted thousands of mines on the border to hinder the advance of Iranian troops. The eight-year war between Iran and Iraq began in September 1980 and continued until August 1988.
After 1991, many local and international mine-related organizations have contributed to clear explosives from the Iraq-Iran border. Large swaths of territory remain dangerous as they have not been de-mined yet, or have been only partially cleared.
There are an estimated 314 million square meters of affected land across the Kurdistan Region, according to IKMAA.
Editing by John J. Catherine